If you don’t want to ruin your prospects of landing your first client, you need to embrace structure and preparation as one of the pillars of a meeting.
Your startup is just a week away from the first big meeting with a potential client and you are feeling nervous and a bit lost. This is only natural especially if you haven’t led big meetings before and not to mention that this very first of your prospective clients could be significant in many ways.
The first advice is not to panic and to remember all the obstacles you had to overcome to get to this position. Since good preparation is the key to conducting a productive meeting, here are a few tips to help you prep for it so you can sweep your first client off their feet.
Research the client thoroughly
Learning more about your potential client will make you more confident and organized since you would have some pointers to rely on. You might start by checking the annual and quarterly reports of their company which are available online for free. They will give you insight into the company’s financial performance.
Also, knowing their brand will help you find the perfect angle to approach them. For instance, if the company is eco-friendly, you would show your business idea correlates with their green one. You can even use that knowledge to think of an icebreaker, to make both you and the client more comfortable and relaxed for the rest of the meeting.
Prepare materials in advance
There is almost nothing worse than a PowerPoint presentation that won’t load or forgetting which of the versions of the portfolio is the final one. Such things, although they happen to everyone from time to time, sometimes can be interpreted as a sign of the presenters being unprofessional which is enough to disturb the confidence you built up for the meeting.
Besides the presentation and the portfolio, make sure you have all the necessary documents ready and printed out on time. As for the legal documents that you may need, you can find customizable business document templates online which can cover all the needs that you might have, such as ‘Confidentiality Agreement’ (NDA), ‘Consultancy Agreement’, ‘Consignment Agreement’ and miscellaneous documents.
Rehearse your pitch
As the time for the beginning approaches, you will feel more anxious and it may happen that you get up to start the pitch and the words get stuck in your throat or they pour out uncontrollably. This is where prior rehearsing the pitch can help immensely: once the nervousness kicks in, your brain will rely on the memorized lines, body movements, and posture.
For a minute or two, you will still be somewhat nervous but as soon as you see that you’ve got it, you will relax and confidently continue with the presentation. If you consider yourself a spontaneous person, you may dislike the idea of learning the pitch by heart. However, it’s better to be prepared than to allow yourself to have a mental blockage on the day of your big meeting. Learning the pitch and rehearsing it helps us conquer our fear and anxiety so that we can present the ideas that we worked hard on.
Remember to follow up
A follow up also needs to be a part of your preparation for the meeting. Don’t ace the meeting just to ruin the impression by coming across as superficial, uncaring or unprofessional. The follow-up email shouldn’t be aggressive or lengthy: your clients don’t have the time to read an essay and most would dislike a pushy email.
So, the follow-up mail should be brief and direct and should support all that they’ve heard so that they decide that you are the one they want to collaborate with. Leverage on the points that they have made, on their needs and how you can cater them and let them feel your enthusiasm for potential collaboration. Also, show them you are there for any additional questions and that you are open to more ideas.
Your start-up business is the product of your creativity, persistence, and efforts. As all small business owners know, a great idea is not enough to push through and there are many sides to a business that you need to be tended. Don’t allow a poorly prepared meeting to gravely influence your self-esteem and your company’s success.
If you don’t want to ruin your prospects of landing your first client, you need to embrace structure and preparation as one of the pillars of a meeting. If your nerves get the best of you, a well-rehearsed pitch will help you regain control of the situation. Preparing all materials in advance will give you peace of mind while your research into the clients will offer you a unique perspective on their identity which you can use to your advantage. And don’t forget – if you made it this far, nothing is impossible.
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